Thursday, January 22, 2004

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New Hampshire update

My prediction that John Edwards would get the biggest media bump because reporters like him better than the other candidates hasn't been completely borne out. A quick Google search reveals that Kerry got more play out of Iowa than Edwards. John Ellis thinks that the Rule of Two means New Hampshire is getting played in the media as Dean vs. Kerry, leaving Edwards out of the media spotlight.

As for the content of the spin, Franklin Foer admits to a "growing male crush" on Edwards, but Josh Marshall compares him to Chinese food -- great when you consume it, but then you're hungry an hour later. The Boston Globe might not love Kerry, but at this point he's the bigger story than Edwards.

But what about the polls? The ARG tracking poll shows Kerry getting a much bigger boost than Edwards in New Hampshire. Same with Zogby. However, two other polls suggest Edwards is gaining more steam. The Boston Herald poll does show Edwards reaching double-digits -- and only five points behind Wesley Clark. Rasmussen has Edwards with 15%, and in the past two days passing both Clark AND Dean for second place.

For Kerry, a resounding victory in New Hampshire unquestionably builds momentum for February 3rd. At this point, he's the only candidate who could have the race locked up by that date. Winning New Hampshire and South Carolina (the latter is a huge if and dependent only on a wave of momentum coming from a New Hampshire victory) would deal a mortal blow to both Dean and Edwards.

However, if Edwards manages to beat Clark in New Hampshire, he kills Wesley Clark's campaign. How could Clark possible argue that he's electable if he finished behind Edwards despite the fact that he ignored Iowa? A stronger-than-expected showing for Edwards in New Hampshire -- over 20% and better than Clark or Dean -- means Kerry can't win South Carolina -- and the race moves onto more Edwards-friendly terrain.

One other fact suggests that Edwards is still a potent threat -- Matt Drudge is going after him.


UPDATE: James Joyner has thoughts on the race, and the value of tracking polls.

ANOTHER UPDATE: As for Dean, David Tell has this killer anecdote from an Edwards speech:

"I'm sure you all saw a lot of the speeches that were given after the Iowa caucuses . . . ," Edwards began.

But before he could finish the thought, a voice in the crowd said "Ohhhh, yeah" in that tone of voice a man uses at the office watercooler during discussions about the latest celebrity-weirdo embarrassment. And just like that, in a flash, 200-some-odd Democratic loyalists filled the Portsmouth V.F.W. post with unrestrained laughter. Nobody even had to mention his name. John Edwards' mere allusion to "the speeches that were given after the Iowa caucuses" called Howard Dean--unflatteringly--to mind.

When they begin to laugh at you automatically, you're dead.

posted by Dan on 01.22.04 at 02:40 PM


The only reason that Edwards campaign is "still a potent threat" is because the media and the other candidates have not turned the spotlight on him, yet. For example, here is a link to a bonehead statement from him as recent as today:,2933,109197,00.html

Does he not realize that if he, by some miracle, were elected president he will have to work with the 32 countries that he calls "window dressing?" It seems that whenever a democratic candidate looks like he may be gaining momentum he makes some sort of idiotic statement that will only be fodder for the Bush campaign once the nomination is wrapped up.

posted by: Robert on 01.22.04 at 02:40 PM [permalink]

I hate to be a jerk, but this "Developing" thing is really annoying, as is "indeed."

Who's "developing" anything? Drudge? the guy who plays mix-n-match with quotes from Congressional testimony?

Dan, you're a better, smarter, and more honest conservative than Drudge and Reynolds, and you don't need to bite off their style or level of "journalism."

posted by: praktike on 01.22.04 at 02:40 PM [permalink]

Tonight’s debate will be most important. I'm still putting my money on Howard Dean. He will adjust his image enough to again pull ahead. John Kerry’s “Frenchiness” won’t work outside of New England. And I see no reason to perceive John Edwards as anything but somebody’s vice president. What about the rest of the nominees? Why waste time discussing them? Their campaigns are already over. Wesley Clark might as well pack his bags and go home. Joseph Lieberman? I would seriously consider voting for him---and that means he’s dead meat!

Howard Dean is blunt concerning his pacifist inclinations. The other viable candidates are attempting to pull a con job on the American people. Let’s get this straight: Democrats are weak on defense! They will mouth the right words, but then make the mealy mouth “planning” excuse. On top of that, they will all grovel at the feet of the Old Europeans. This is especially true of Senator Kerry. Our country is in grave danger if any Democrat other than Senator Lieberman becomes President of the United States.

posted by: David Thomson on 01.22.04 at 02:40 PM [permalink]

I found this Slate article shortly after posting my previous comments:

“"He's (John Kerry) a stiff and a phony," Globe columnist Alex Beam told Chatterbox. "Stuff sticks to him because it's true." Beam isn't wrong. The rap against Kerry—that he's a snob, that he's an opportunist, that he approaches facts with a Clintonesque slipperiness—is grounded in persuasive evidence. Even Martin F. Nolan, a former editorial page editor at the Globe who contends the rap against Kerry is not true, concedes that it was true before Kerry remarried and endured a tough 1996 re-election race against Bill Weld. "He would shake your hand and look over your shoulder to see who's more interesting," Nolan told Chatterbox.”

Did I say that John Kerry can’t win outside of the New England area? Heck, he may not even be able to win in his own backyard! By the way, when’s the last time anyone has seen Kerry’s wife?

posted by: David Thomson on 01.22.04 at 02:40 PM [permalink]


Glenn isn't a conservative; he's a libertarian. While there is some overlap between the two positions, there are enough points of difference to distinguish between them.

posted by: Sam Barnes on 01.22.04 at 02:40 PM [permalink]

I won't bother trying to convince anyone of the merits of the candidates, it is not your votes that will decide this election (nor will mine). But I will point out to David Thomson that Kerry's wife was on stage with him when he won in Iowa. Which incidentally is not a part of New England.

posted by: Rich on 01.22.04 at 02:40 PM [permalink]

I hope your sense of Edwards prospects is right, Dan.

Here's the simple formula for Democratic victory in November:

Nominate Edwards, and select a VP with lots of experience and impeccable foreign policy credentials.

Give 'em the sizzle and the steak. Edwards' charisma, combined with his serious, detailed policy views. And behind him, someone who shows the steadiness and experience we need in a time of war.

posted by: William Swann on 01.22.04 at 02:40 PM [permalink]

Dan, I did tell you this might happen. The media had room for two storylines coming out of Iowa. Kerry as the surprise winner provided one of them; Howard Dean's collapse and odd conduct afterwards provided the other.

That left Edwards on the back pages. But tonight's debate and the days to come could change that. If Kerry doesn't win big, Edwards could stick around for a while. Actually, it is possible that at least four serious candidates could stick around of a while -- that the whole purpose of frontloading the primaries could be frustrated by early races that don't yield a decisive advantage to anyone, in an age when every surge can be quickly translated into enough campaign donations to keep a candidate going.

I'd like to see that myself. I just don't think it's healthy for a party's nominee to be chosen by a small handful of states. Plus, it would be very entertaining to see a race stretching into February, March, April....

posted by: Zathras on 01.22.04 at 02:40 PM [permalink]

“Plus, it would be very entertaining to see a race stretching into February, March, April....”

Be careful what you wish for---you might get it. Such “entertainment” will probably mean a Democrat blood bath. It will get mean and nasty down in the trenches. Howard Dean and his true believing follwers will likely burn down the whole house.

posted by: David Thomson on 01.22.04 at 02:40 PM [permalink]

Typical. People may talk big about democracy but when it actually happens, all they can do is disparage the process. Look the mostly untold story out of Iowa was that people were coming out of the woodwork to register and vote. Even though my candidate didn't win, the fact that we overflowed city hall and ran out of registration forms is good. If it continues in NH I'd say that the Dems are serious about getting out the vote and winning. Compare that to GW Bush who according to the WaPo just before the SOTU had 45% unfavorable rating and was running even against a generic Democrat.

While I still think that Bush has the edge as the incumbent, and more charm than any of the Dem hopefuls including Edwards ... it's not that big a stretch to see a Dem in the Oval Office come November. Of course anything can, and something probably will, happen between now and then.

So forget all this sniping and stumbling stuff. The real drama is the arc of the democratic process itself, and how it mobilizes the "troops" and forces them to confront what it takes to put together a winning coalition.

posted by: Oldman on 01.22.04 at 02:40 PM [permalink]

I think you're right, Oldman. All of this is mostly pretty refreshing.

I'm interested in seeing how things will go for Edwards tonight. Most likely, he will get questions he hasn't heard before -- pointed, serious questions. Like how can he say he has enough foreign policy experience to be president? Or what about these reports he flirted with privatizing social security?

Will he sound defensive, or answer those questions with a steady confidence? The latter will be key in taking the steps to become the actual nominee. He needs to project steadiness and confidence.

posted by: William Swann on 01.22.04 at 02:40 PM [permalink]

Something I haven't seen anyone on any of the blogs mention, but isn't Al Gore a HUGE loser if Dean goes down the tubes? I think the whole reason he backed Dean was he thought Dean would win the nomination but not the election, positioning Gore to pick up Dean's supposed huge support network and to align Gore with the emerging dominance of the left wing of the Dem party. Now Dean is most likely toast, the 'new wave' of Lefty Dominance has swerved center, and Al Gore's endorsement isn't worth any more than Carol Moseley Braun's.

posted by: docweasel on 01.22.04 at 02:40 PM [permalink]

There are those who claim Al Gore was a loser to begin with.

But seriously, folks, I don't think a protracted primary campaign is necessarily bad for the Democrats in November. At this stage every Democratic candidate has the same problem with respect to President Bush -- everyone knows who Bush is, and many people don't know any of the Democrats. A primary season lasting more than a few weeks would go far to fix this problem. It could damage the eventual nominee if it centered on deeply-felt differences on defining issues. But these are not the differences these Democrats have with one another.

First, pre-spin impressions of the debate: Clark did not do well. Dean looks like he is recovering. Edwards and Kerry were fine, though Edwards appeared to be skating right on the frontier of his knowledge once or twice (what was in that Defense of Marriage Act again, Senator?) and Kerry has these distracting arm movements so uncoordinated with what he is saying that they look as if they are being made by a tall man standing directly behind him. Lieberman did really well; I don't know if he helped himself with Democratic voters by sticking to his guns on issues like Iraq on which his is a minority opinion. He may end up being admired by a lot of Democrats who won't vote for him. Like McCain four years ago he may be counting on independents voting in the his party's primary.

posted by: Zathras on 01.22.04 at 02:40 PM [permalink]

“...everyone knows who Bush is, and many people don't know any of the Democrats.”

The last thing any Democrat partisan may want is for the American people to learn more about these candidates. Sigh, I am probably dismissed by a number of people reading this blog as some sort of right wing nutball. This may not be fair, but whoever said life was fair? I have therefore concluded that it maight be best for me to direct you to Roger L. Simon’s comments. He and I seem to be on the same page. Yup, the reactionary and ultraconservative Simon is starting to get it:

“The de facto winner of the debate was Kerry because he's in the lead and didn’t make any mistakes.

Dean was boring. A wash.

The big loser: Clark. His weird evasive response to the question about his “supporter” Michael Moore calling Bush “a deserter” was a pathetic eye roller. And, no, Clark is not a Democrat. He’s barely a person.

The unfortunate loser (for me—I wanted to like him) was Edwards. He just didn’t seem ready for prime time. He wasn’t up to speed not only on the Defense of Marriage Act (I wouldn’t be either—but I’m not a candidate), but on Islam as well. On that one I could have been his rescue phone call. Any of a million people could have been. He needed one.

The real winner was Joe Lieberman. And I believe that, other than Kucinich, he was the only one honest about what he really thought. And he expressed himself very well. On the war he made everyone else on that podium seem morally bankrupt—and frankly they are. In the face of fascism they have simply waffled and bobbled the ball. I am far less likely now to vote for any of them (especially since Lieberman seems a very long shot) than I was before the debate”

I should add quickly is that Howard Dean was perhaps helped by being perceived as "boring." He's had a bit too much excitement in the last week. Dean needs to tone down his image. This should help him to ultimately capture the Democrat nomination. Dean is still the odds on favorite.

posted by: David Thomson on 01.22.04 at 02:40 PM [permalink]

David Thomson has a lot to say, doesn't he? Or rather, a compulsion to say the same thing several times.

Perhaps he should get his own blog...

posted by: TomD on 01.22.04 at 02:40 PM [permalink]

I have to commend all of you who watched the debate last night. I can no longer watch more than 90 seconds of them at a stretch. I did however, catch the Diane Sawyer interview with Howie. It was most impressive how he managed not to scream with each precisely positioned knife-wound. OUCH! Questions were answered about Mrs. Dean, once and for all. She seems perfectly nice and 100% sane. However, she is better suited to little house on the prairie than the White House. I know, I know, women are catty, but we also tell it like it is. These are nice people who shine like the sun in small-town Vermont and would be eaten alive in nasty DC. NRFPT.

Dean has performed a service to his party, however, in standing as a foil to lackluster candidates like Kerry (same can be said, increasingly, for Clark, the nutball). It's as if your daughter brought home a gang-banger (alarming!), followed by a skinhead (HELLO! double alarms), followed by sniffly nebbish who shakes your hand with a limp wrist. You know he's no great prize, but once shown the competition you embrace him!

The question, in the end is, can you stomach the wedding?

posted by: Kelli on 01.22.04 at 02:40 PM [permalink]

Questions were answered about Mrs. Dean, once and for all. She seems perfectly nice and 100% sane.

The problem is that we are not certain that the same can be said for Mr. Dean and he's an actual contender. That business of going on NPR to reiterate an "interesting theory" about how "Bush knew" puts him alongside Michael Moore, Ted Ralls, and the other cranks.

posted by: Thorley Winston on 01.22.04 at 02:40 PM [permalink]

David Thompson writes: "I am probably dismissed by a number of people reading this blog as some sort of right wing nutball."

Hey, you said it, not me. But given that you approvingly quote statments like the one about how Clarke is "barely a person", I'd have to agree.

posted by: Rich Puchalsky on 01.22.04 at 02:40 PM [permalink]

Dear Kelli,

Once again you've put your finger on it brilliantly. I've always had mixed feelings about Dean, but my support for him has always been based on the best of a bad bunch theory. I know some people prefer Edwards, and he is quite decent in some ways ... but his "politics of hope" has about as much chance of survival against Bush-Rove as a lamb to the slaughter. Kerry as a bare knuckled candidate has a better chance, but Bush can out-charm him on a bad hair day.

Btw I do like Edwards much better than I like Dean. But he keeps on saying stuff like he "voted against the $87 billion Iraq reconstruction bill". Well as far as I know, the Senate vote was voice vote only - I've listened to the recording. The only person heard chanting no repeatedly and clearly is Byrd. So how can he saw that he voted against it? The whole point of a voice vote is that neither side (except Byrd) would have a record to be accountable for later.

And there's worse too. Unless he can survive a trial by fire worse than Dean has, he's got no chance against Rove who won't even hesitate to use push-polls.

As far as Dean's mentioning what Bush may have known before 911, he's too aggressive on what might otherwise be good issues. For instance the Justice department is closing in on Senate Intelligence member the Republican Richard Shelby. He apparently was the one who leaked the "tomorrow is zero day," etc intelligence intercepts as quotes of pre-911 intel to the press. Probably ironically as an act of conscience. It's clear that the government had some idea that 911 was imminent.

However I don't believe for a moment that Bush knew that 911 was about to happen. I do believe that Intelligence bureaucracy and a novice (Clarke the Clinton counter-terrorism guru was still tutoring them) National Security team under-rated the threat or dropped the ball. Considering the performance over Iraq, it's not terribly unbelieving that they did. The Republican head of the 911 investigation commitee has openly criticized the Bush Admin for obstructing the commission's investigation. Bush probably isn't guilty of anything but having an inept National Security team, but he isn't helping to fix the problems in the system that led to the ball being dropped on 911 either.

Another instance of Dean too aggressively taking on an issue that has actual merit. He's made a nice attempt at a comeback since his "Yeagh!!!" moment, but he still needs better advisers.

posted by: Oldman on 01.22.04 at 02:40 PM [permalink]

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